The biomechanical behavior of connective tissue in response to stretching is generally attributed to the molecular composition and organization of its extracellular matrix. It also is becoming apparent that fibroblasts play an active role in regulating connective tissue tension. In response to static stretching of the tissue, fibroblasts expand within minutes by actively remodeling their cytoskeleton. This dynamic change in fibroblast shape contributes to the drop in tissue tension that occurs during viscoelastic relaxation. We propose that this response of fibroblasts plays a role in regulating extracellular fluid flow into the tissue, and protects against swelling when the matrix is stretched. This article reviews the evidence supporting possible mechanisms underlying this response including autocrine purinergic signaling. We also discuss fibroblast regulation of connective tissue tension with respect to lymphatic flow, immune function, and cancer. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 1714–1719, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.